Preschool siblings of handicapped children: interactions with mothers, brothers, and sisters

Res Dev Disabil. 1991;12(4):387-99. doi: 10.1016/0891-4222(91)90034-p.


The purpose of this investigation was to examine similarities and differences between young (aged 3 years to 6 years 9 months) siblings of handicapped and nonhandicapped children in their behavioral interactions with their mothers, brothers, and sisters. Behavior of mothers toward the different groups of children also was examined. Results revealed few differences between sibling groups in the quantity or quality of their interactions with family members. In comparison to the matched control children, siblings of handicapped children engaged in more parallel play and social play, and were more nurturing but no more likely to interact aggressively or to be commanding or directive with their brothers or sisters. Mothers in the experimental group were found to target significantly more nurturant behaviors toward their children compared to control mothers and were significantly more likely to deliver commands, directives, and reprimands to siblings of handicapped children than to any other child. Results are discussed in terms of their correspondence to previous observational and interview research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disabled Persons / psychology*
  • Down Syndrome / psychology*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / psychology*
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Parenting / psychology
  • Sibling Relations*
  • Social Environment